Tag Archives: Rick Perry

No More Perrystan!! But what’s next?

At least come early 2015.

Yesterday, the longest-serving Governor in Texas history, made his big announcement… Rick Perry will not seek re-election. Here’s more from the Texas Tribune…

Perry announced Monday that he will not run for re-election next year, creating the first open race for Texas governor since 1990 and making Attorney General Greg Abbott the instant favorite to replace him.

“I remain excited about the future and the challenges ahead, but the time has come to pass on the mantle of leadership,” Perry said. “Today I am announcing I will not seek re-election as governor of Texas. I will spend the next 18 months working to create more jobs, opportunity and innovation. I will actively lead this great state.”

This is an historic announcement for the state of Texas. For the first time in the 21st Century, Rick Perry will not hold an elected office in Texas State Government. And as for having an open field for Texas Governor, it’s going to be a welcomed change. And hopefully, for the first time since 2006, Texans will get to observe a General Election debate. In case you forgot, Rick Perry was re-elected in 2010 without even debating Democratic candidate Bill White.

Sure… some people may think of debates as more show than substance, but it’s been an important tool in recent American politics. Debates offer a chance for voters to (potentially) hear both sides of an argument presented on equal footing. Our country couldn’t have had better evidence of this than the debate series between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. It’s arguable Romney’s performance in the first debate was the only time in his campaign that he felt like a credible candidate for the Presidency, and it was the time that Obama’s re-election hopes were in the most danger. The simple course of 90 minutes and two candidates having to interact had a profound impact on months… years of work.

Is anyone surprised that Rick Perry chose to chicken out of debating a very viable opponent. Why expose voters to the truth?

But thankfully, the time of Perrystan now has a definitive closing date. We can all look forward to seeing honesty and transparency return to the Governor’s office, right?

Hardly.

Though he lacks the showmanship of Governor Perry, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is just as shrewd and potentially dangerous. Don’t let the disability fool you. He’s at constant war with the Obama administration on virtually every major federal law. He’s an adamant Anti- Choice proponent. And if you thought that maybe his brand of Conservatism allows for the freedom to marry or be respected as same-sex partners? Think again. He’s already vigorously preparing to fight every aspect of the latest SCOTUS rulings striking down the Defense of Marriage Act. If you were looking forward to escaping the horrors of Perrystan, Abbottstan would probably be worse.

But here’s the good news… it’s not election day yet. Democrats still have more than a year to get their stuff together. Again it all comes down to doing the hard work of uniting behind the right candidates. The recent protests at the Capitol have proven that progressivism still has a place in Texas. But these protests have to turn into real political action. They cannot fade into the night once the legislature closes. And regardless of the outcome of candidates, all Texans should demand a series of General Election debates. Let’s face it folks… a well-televised debate is the single most important event that can occur for voters whom are less politically engaged. One has to wonder that if Bill White got 42% of a low vote election, how much more could he have gotten with a more informed public?? In the 2014 battle, this cannot be allowed.

Texas Democrats, say hello to your new Public Enemy number 1. No More Abbottstan

The 1st Stand With Texas Women Rally

In case you haven’t heard, the fight over Women’s rights in Texas is far from over. Like the summer in this state, it’s just now heating up.

From the Burnt Orange Report

Here in Texas, Republicans are waging an all-out assault on women. After the close of the regular legislative session, Governor Rick Perry called a special session to fast-track severe abortion restrictions that would close 37 of the state’s 42 abortion providers. This comes on the heels of vicious cuts to women’s health and family planning in 2011, which slashed 75% of the budget for what is primarily preventative care and access to birth control. Oh, and Perry also vetoed the Texas Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act that passed with bipartisan support in 2013.

During the regular legislative session in which female legislators from both parties stood up against further attacks on women’s health — though let’s be honest, there wasn’t much left to dismantle. However, Perry decided to add abortion restrictions to an initial special session that was initially called to pass redistricting maps. (The maps suck and are intentionally discriminatory against minorities, but that’s a topic for another time).

Texas women stood up against the abortion restrictions. Planned Parenthood organized women to stand in the Senate dressed in 1950’s garb, while NARAL sent “tangerine vagilantes” in orange shirts to silently display their opposition. The movement grew when several of the abortion bills were heard in a State Affairs committee — pro-choice groups and the Democratic Party organized hundreds of women to attend to tell their stories about why they oppose the bill. When Committee Chair Byron Cook silenced the women by cutting off testimony, he tossed gasoline on a long-smoldering anger of women who had long ago grown sick and tired of Republicans’ endless chipping away at reproductive rights.

Hundreds of Texans thronged the Capitol for the second reading of the bill on the State House floor, during which Democrats valiantly offered sane amendments and sharp commentary on the bill in an effort to slow its passage. Eventually the bill made it out of the House and back to the Senate, but a mandatory 24-hour waiting period — which Dewhurst tried to out-maneuver due to the absence of Democratic Senator Leticia Van de Putte, who was attending her father’s funeral — put the firm Tuesday, June 25 midnight deadline within reach of a valiant last stand by the Democrats.

The first session ended with the now-famous filibuster by State Senator Wendy Davis, who read testimonies cut off by Cook and others submitted via email and engaged in debate with her colleagues on the Senate floor for over 11 hours, until she was silenced by Republican points of order. Her Democratic colleagues debated those points of order until with less than 15 minutes to go, the Senate Gallery erupted into shouts and screams against the bill and the gross abuse of Senate rules that was facilitating its passage. The clock ran out on the special session, and after it was ascertained that the bill did not pass, Perry called everyone back to do it again.

So that’s where we are: back for a second special session to pass unwanted abortion restrictions that a galvanizing citizen-led effort helped shut down the first time.

The first Stand With Texas Women rally begins at noon in Austin at the state capitol. But other events are also being held for those that cannot make it to Austin, but want to stand in solidarity with the protesters.

Will She Run? Wendy Davis Answers

Texans, if you’re not watching the new MSNBC program All In With Chris, then you missed some serious breaking news for the state of Texas last night. As I read this morning’s blogosphere, there’s a lot of prognostication about State Senator Davis’ next role in Texas politics. Will she run for Governor, or won’t she??

In an exclusive interview with Chris Hayes last night, she answered the question point blank….

Hayes: There is a Gubernatorial election in 2014. Your state has not elected a statewide Democrat for quite some time. Are you going to run for Governor?

Davis: You know, I would be lying if told you that I hadn’t had aspirations to run for a statewide office. I love this state and it’s been an incredible opportunity to represent it in the Texas Senate. I think the real story will be… will the sentiment of people hold? Will they demonstrate their desire for new leadership in this state? If yesterday was any indication, I think chances are good that is going to be the case.

Here’s the clip.

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An interesting answer which sounds quite familiar. In fact, I discussed this same issue with HCDP Chairman Lane Lewis a few months back. After suffering two decades of defeat for statewide office, Texas Democrats have been caught in a particular political conundrum. Here was Lane’s answer when I asked him about the possibility for statewide candidates…

If we expect a Senator, Mayor or State Rep to put their name out to run for state-wide office, the first thing they will look at is their ability to raise money. The second thing they’re going to look at is capacity for voter turnout. Now the problem is this… the only way they can raise money is if the answer to the second question is already there. The big money isn’t going to contribute without knowing voter turnout and engagement (the answer to the FIRST question) is already in place. So when people ask me “who have we got running for Governor?” my question to them is “How many calls have you made today? How many doors have you knocked on today?” Because if the answer to my question is ZERO, then the answer to their question will most certainly be ZERO. The money will come… the candidates will come when we’re doing our job. That job is to raise a dollar, knock a door and make a call.

Luckily, we know that things are beginning to change in the state. Shifting state demographics are in our favor, even if aggressive gerrymandering and voter suppression are not. Battleground Texas has already made a visible difference with rapid fundraising, organization and training to increase voter turnout. County Democrats across the state are working hard to line up new initiatives and stay active before the 2014 campaign season even begins. And let’s just admit the facts… with Governor Perry waiting less than twenty-four hours to call another Special Session (this time with his Anti-Choice agenda a top priority), the GOP is giving Democrats plenty of fuel for the fire.

Senator Davis has issued Texans a clarion call. Are we ready for new leadership in the state? If so, it’s time to get our act together and work for it. We have to keep raising money, keep knocking doors, and keep speaking out against Rick Perry’s abuses. Don’t let any bad deed be forgotten, or get swept under the rug. There’s 495 days left until the 2014 election. I say we go ALL IN.

Texas Lege DECIMATING Women’s Health Services

Republicans have learned quickly in Texas just how “Special” a Special Session can be.

Late last night in the Senate, the GOP took advantage of unique rules in the Special Session, and were able to pass SB5 against Democratic objections. Senate Bill 5 is textbook amongst TRAP laws, or Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers. Like the ones already passed in other states, it would place unnecessary restrictions on abortion providers, such as each doctor on staff having admitting privileges to a hospital within 30 miles of their practice, or the need to upgrade their facilities to match that of an Emergency Room. Given that Texas is a VERY sparse state in rural areas, and what few hospitals there are have religious objections to abortion, this is basically an eviction notice for women’s health services. These restrictions will effectively end abortion services for Texas women in all but a few select urban areas. Only 5 clinics in the whole state at present meet the rigorous qualifications set forth in SB5, which would cause the shut-down of 42 clinics.

During the Senate hearings, Republicans said that they were passing the legislation out of “concern for women’s health care”, but that reasoning was a total lie, as revealed by Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst. After the Senators spent hours trying to say otherwise, he proudly boasted such news on Twitter by tweeting out the map showing how many clinics would be forced to shut down…

Given that the Texas House is dominated by Republicans, the measure will likely become law tonight. At the same time, Texas women from across the state are headed to Austin for rally in protest.

This is truly a new low for the Texas Congressional GOP.

—-UPDATE—-

9:10am June 21st— Though the Senate has done it’s dirty work by passing SB 5, House Bill 60 (HB 60) is still in committee. And thanks to the bravery and true dedication of 700 Texans last night and into this morning, HB 60 did NOT get a vote. They descended upon Austin and staged an astonishing Citizen’s Filibuster as everyone present signed up to speak about the bill. It was a total takeover of what the GOP House members expected to a “rubber stamp” hearing.

Here’s part of the first-hand account from Andrea Grimes at rhrealitycheck.org

We’re here as part of a citizens’ filibuster against a bill added to the Texas house’s special session calendar at the last minute by Republican Gov. Rick Perry. They spent the day anxiously waiting for their names to be called by House State Affairs Committee chairman Rep. Byron Cook (R-Corsicana). They’ve been poring over testimony, timing themselves on smartphones, practicing their statements in the hallway with quavering voices.

Seven hundred people registered to testify today. Tonight. Into the wee hours. They were prepared to wait as long as it took.

At midnight, Rep. Cook told us that, after nearly seven hours of testimony against HB 60, our words were getting to be “repetitive,” and he would allow just one more hour of testimony.

That’s when the yelling started.

“Let her speak!” chanted women and men who gathered in the room as one woman was escorted away from the podium by a Texas State Trooper.

Shortly thereafter, citizens took over the hearing room and decided to testify with or without the committee members present.

That’s when #HB60 began trending worldwide on Twitter. That’s when people stopped tweeting about getting coffee delivered to the James H. Reagan building here in downtown Austin, and started tweeting about bail money.

Eventually, Rep. Cook and his colleagues called the hearing back to order and gave the gathered citizens another half-hour to speak against HB 60.

“Our words are not repetitive,” testified Lesli Simms, a first-generation American. “Our government’s attacks on our choice, on our bodies, is repetitive.”

There are hundreds of people still waiting to have their voices heard. But it may be their silence, engineered and ensured by Rep. Cook and right-wing lawmakers, that will speak loudest of all.

These courageous Texans fought for all of us last night. And for that, I thank them.

FEMA Denies Aid for West Explosion Victims

From the AP newswire

WEST, TX — The Federal Emergency Management Agency is refusing to provide additional money to help rebuild the small Texas town where a deadly fertilizer plant explosion leveled numerous homes and a school, and killed 15 people.

According to a letter obtained by The Associated Press, FEMA said it reviewed the state’s appeal to help but decided that the explosion “is not of the severity and magnitude that warrants a major disaster declaration.”

FEMA already has provided millions of dollars in aid to the town of West and its residents, but the decision prevents them from getting some of the widespread assistance typically available to victims of tornadoes, hurricanes and other natural disasters.

It remains unclear what funds may not be available to individuals, but the decision likely means less money to pay for public repairs to roads, sewer lines, pipes and a school that was destroyed.

FEMA denied the “major disaster declaration” both for public assistance — which would give money to the city to help rebuild — and for further individual assistance.

It’s not unusual for FEMA to turn down that level of assistance for emergencies not stemming from natural disasters. In 2010, for example, officials denied a request for millions in aid after a gas pipeline explosion that consumed a Northern California neighborhood.

Some funds would be available in West through insurance pay outs and because it believes the state or the municipality has the resources to cover the costs, among other things, agency spokesman Dan Watson said in a statement.

So let’s just be clear about a few things here…

FEMA is the Federal Emergency Management Agency, not the Federal “Natural Disaster” Management Agency. Whoever has decided that what happened in West does not qualify as an emergency needs to be fired. It doesn’t matter what caused the explosion because the results are just as horrific and life-altering of a disaster as anything else. In the now famous words of Hillary Clinton, “what difference at this point does it make?”– 15 people are dead and half of a town was destroyed. This is an Emergency in every sense of the word, and these people need help putting their lives back together. They need it NOW. Who cares what the insurance companies may or may not pay? The citizens of West are Americans and taxpayers like everyone else. My tax dollars go to keep this government running, and I can think of no better use for it than to help people when they need help the most.

I live in Texas. I get that there’s a lot of political stunts that get played from a very vocal minority of Texas leaders. Rick Perry loves to throw around the ideas about Secession, and Ted Cruz just says the craziest crap he can think to say. But this isn’t about politics. This is about people that have suffered a great deal of physical, mental and emotional stress. They’re not the ones getting on TV making speeches. They are people just like you and me. And if you had suffered the loss of so much at one time, you would need help too.

For the sake of all of these people, I hope that FEMA Director Craig Fugate reconsiders this decision, and fast. The people of West don’t have time to be caught in political battles. West needs us right now.

Get Schooled: The Truth on Texas Education Funding

As the Texas legislative session continues to tick away, many people in the state are becoming worried about Texas Schools, which took a $5 Billion dollar funding cut from the 2011 session thanks to the GOP. While some have been pandering to angry voters saying that they would “consider” restoring some of the funds, no significant action has taken place yet… save for a few brave Democrats like State Senator Wendy Davis consistently discussing the issue.

And now, two years later, Texans are bearing the consequences with 10,000 fewer teachers in the classroom, but 64,000 more kids to educate. That results in over-crowded classes and resources that are stretched to the bone for the many districts that were already having to do more with less. Even as Governor Perry boasts about an $11 Billion dollar “surplus”, he hasn’t pledged one penny to restore the cuts he made when the state budeget was at a deficit. Texas families are getting fed up.

Enter the group One Texas PAC… an advocacy group dedicated to electing Latino leaders… with this new video showing the truth at how those 2011 cuts have harmed our state’s children. This is worth watching by everyone just to catch up. You can also sign the petition on change.org.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxeGscfquR0]

Texas Health Scare: MediCaid, or CrisisCaid?

In a week filled with more eye-catching stories like the Oscar Pistorius murder saga and the looming “Republiquester”, it’s perhaps not surprising that Healthcare news isn’t on the front burner. But make no mistake… some news out of the Sunshine State is THE most important story of this week.

Last summer, after the Supreme Court’s shocking decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act, Republicans immediately stood up in defiance. The Governors of Texas, Florida, Arizona and other GOP-led states pledged then and there to fight every provision of Obamacare until their last breath. Florida Governor Rick Scott could be said the main instigator of this… after all it was his state that was the first to file suit against the law.

In a shocking policy reversal, the Florida Governor now supports Medicaid expansion… a most central tennet of the Affordable Care Act. His direct quote from is so dumbfounding, I have to share directly from the Tampa Bay Times

“While the federal government is committed to pay 100 percent of the cost, I cannot, in good conscience, deny Floridians the needed access to health care,” Scott said at a hastily called news conference at the Governor’s Mansion.

So basically… Rick Scott had to eat it. He finally sat down at his desk, looked at the PEOPLE and the MATH converging, and decided that the lives of over 1 million Floridians would benefit from Obamacare’s Medicaid provision. Make no mistake, this is a humongous win for President Obama and the Democrats, but more importantly, it’s a win for the life and health of the citizens of Florida. If the state legislature follows Governor Scott’s lead, lives will be saved in Florida. People will get care in Florida.

Now on to the true point of this article… when is Texas Governor Rick Perry going to see the ligtht as well? For all that Florida stands to benefit fom Medicaid expansion, Texans are in an even greater need.

Here are some sobering facts from the Texas Medical Association

1 in 4 Texans are uninsured. That’s over over 6.2 million people as of 2010, and more uninsured than any other state.

-These uninsured people have no but choice to seek the emergency room. As a result they drive up Healthcare costs for everyone else. The average cost to treat a minor ailment in the Doctors office? $56.21. In the emergency room? $193.92. That’s almost 4 times the expense as it would be going to the doctor for a similar ailment (much less waiting until it becomes WORSE). Guess who absorbs those costs? And Texans wonder why our healthcare costs are soaring.

Only 50% of working Texans have health insurance… 49th in the country. The common misconception here is that employers are supposed to offer some form of a health insurance plan. That wasn’t actually a law until the passage of the Affordable Care Act. As a right-to-work state with a plethora of low-wage jobs, Texas companies have very little incentive to offer health insurance. So contrary to popular belief, it’s not just those on welfare in Texas that are struggling to find health care. It’s many of the employed public too.

Let’s get personal for a second. The “bleeding-heart Liberal” in me wants to thank Rick Scott for his moment of clarity and sincerity, and celebrate this win for Florida, Democrats and affordable Health Care. But this is NOT the time to become complacent. The moment is now to put pressure on Governor Perry to do the math for our state. Even as he touts the “smoke and mirrors” budget surplus, Texas families are being devastated by employers that refuse to even offer health insurance (and are trying to sue their way out of it now that it’s mandated by Obamacare), and are continuing to lose sleep over that nagging health issue that they simply can’t afford to deal with this month… or the next… or the next… until it’s too late and becomes a life-or-death issue. We know that Medicaid isn’t perfect, but it’s a VAST improvement from “CrisisCaid”- the spiral so many Texans face where the emergency room is their only option. This is the moment for Texas Democrats to put pressure on the Governor. With now 7 GOP-led states biting their tongue, Rick Perry will be forced to follow suit. And if even doesn’t, Texas Democrats should carry it all the way to the 2014 ballot box.

So Gov… what’s it gonna be? That clock is still a-tickin’.